Saint Panteleimon's is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving the New South Wales Central Coast and the northern suburbs of Sydney. We are a parish of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Established in 2000, our parish is one of the newest in our Diocese.
Updated 16 May 2020: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it are having a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish is strictly complying with the directives of the civil authorities in this country including limits on the number of people present at services and registration of attendance. We have also introduced sanitary measures including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; discouraging people from kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, and the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; anointing the faithful with disposable cotton swabs rather than a single brush; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion; and the cancellation of our usual “cup of tea” after services. In addition, we have marked places on the floor in church to help worshippers maintain appropriate distance from one another. Relevant statements from church authorities, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes are available here.
16 May 2020: The three-step plan announced by the Australian Government on 8 May 2020 and the consequent relaxation of restrictions by the NSW Government with effect from Friday 15 May 2020 allow us to have ten people in church in addition to essential workers as of the weekend of 16-17 May 2020. Essential workers include clergy, servers, and singers. It is important to understand that our parish is not yet fully open for public services. For the foreseeable future, church attendance will be by invitation only. Each invitation to attend will be made on the basis of need for servers, singers and helpers at a given service; whether or not an individual or family has expressed interest via our website in attending; the regularity with which those seeking to attend usually worship in our parish; and the number of places available. As our church does not have services every week and as the number of places will be limited for the foreseeable future, for many people there will be few opportunities to be in church. We ask for your patience and understanding as we try and facilitate church attendance for as many of our parishioners and friends as possible. For the parish to be compliant with Government requirements, all those attending will need to be in good health, maintain distancing in church, and agree to have their attendance recorded. If anyone is unwell or unwilling to comply with these requirements, they should not accept an invitation to attend. Those wishing to receive Holy Communion are asked to attend the service on the preceding evening and to take the opportunity to confess then rather than immediately before Divine Liturgy. Exceptions will be made for those who have a significant distance to travel or who have no means of getting to church in the evening. There will be a sheet at the candle-desk on which to record attendance details. Please take care to record your details as soon as you arrive at church. The completed attendance sheets will be retained for four weeks, stored securely, and only released to the NSW Chief Health officer if required for the purpose of contact-tracing should there be an instance of community transmission of COVID-19.
Updated 13 May 2020: Many people have asked how they can continue to materially support our parish during the period of restricted church attendance. Donations may be made directly to our bank account:
St Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Community of Gosford
BSB: 032-596 Account number: 140923
May the Lord bless you!
In addition to services on the weekend of 16-17 May, we will have services for the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord on Wednesday 27 May and Thursday 28 May and for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha on Saturday 30 May and Sunday 31 May. On Wednesday 27 May All-night Vigil will be served at 6.00pm, and on Thursday 28 May Divine Liturgy will be served at 8.00am. On Saturday 30 May All-night Vigil will be served at 6.00pm, and on Sunday 31 May Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am. In accordance with the directions of the civil authorities, attendance will be limited to ten people in addition to the clergy, servers, singers and helpers necessary for the orderly conduct of the services. Those wishing to attend must advise us of their interest by email so that places can be allocated. Only those who are well and willing to formally register their attendance will be considered.
On Saturday 16 May and Sunday 17 May we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. For the first time in over two months, we were able to have a number of parishioners in church in addition to clergy, servers, singers and helpers. Many of those present took the opportunity to confess and receive Holy Communion. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, prayers of thanksgiving were offered for the Reestablishment of Canonical Communion in the Russian Orthodox Church, accomplished in Moscow on 17 May 2007 in the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion by the wise and ever-memorable archpastors Patriarch Alexey II and Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla). After the dismissal the parish rector congratulated 16 year-old Monica Karmadonoff on her name day, recalling her baptism on Palm Sunday 2004 and noting that she was the first baby baptised in our West Gosford parish centre.
On Tuesday 12 May the Parish Council met by teleconference. Reports were heard on parish life and finances. Particular attention was given to the COVID-19 crisis, its impact on parish life, and the possibility of recommencing open-door services, albeit with restricted numbers, from 15 May. It was agreed that services with ten worshippers present, in addition to essential workers, would begin as of the weekend of 16-17 May. The parish rector indicated that he would begin to serve in the Wallsend parish again from the weekend of 23-24 May. The Parish Council is due to meet again on Tuesday 9 June.
On Saturday 9 May and Sunday 10 May we had closed-door services for the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Paralytic. This Sunday takes its name from the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel, John 5:1-15, which gives an account of the healing by our Lord Jesus Christ of a man paralysed for thirty-eight years. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of the parishioners of the Wallsend parish were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Nicholas was served at which the Wallsend parishioners and their families were again commemorated.
On Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May we had closed-door services for the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers. On this day the Orthodox Church commemorates those who brought funeral spices and ointments to the tomb for Christ's burial: Mary Magdalene, Mary the Theotokos, Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of all our parishioners were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Panteleimon was served at which our parishioners and their families were again commemorated.
On Saturday 25 April and Sunday 26 April we had closed-door services for the second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. Thomas Sunday is so named because the appointed reading from the Gospel (John 20:19-31) gives an account of the initial unbelief and subsequent confession of faith of the Apostle Thomas. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of the Wallsend parish were read. Following the Prayer before the Amvon the prayer at the breaking of the Artos was read and the artosi for both our parish and the Wallsend parish were cut for distribution. The pieces of the artos have been wrapped and frozen and will be distributed when our churches reopen. Following Divine Liturgy a general pannikhida was served in anticipation of Radonitsa (the "Day of Rejoicing"), a commemoration of the departed that in the Russian Orthodox tradition is customarily observed on the second Tuesday after Pascha. In accordance with the instructions of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia we commemorated their Beatitudes the ever-memorable Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy; Metropolitans Philaret, Vitaly and Laurus; our ever-memorable Diocesan hierarchs Archbishops Theodore, Savva, Theodosy, Afanasy, and Paul; the departed clergy of our Diocese; all those who for Christ and the Russian Church laboured in divers lands, and the other archpastors, pastors, founders and benefactors of the Russian Diaspora; for the elect sons and daughters of the Church of Russia, who faithfully struggled for her unity, good estate and honour in the realms of piety, blessedness, governance, the protection of the persecuted and the veneration of the New Martyrs and Confessors; for all our righteous ancestors, and for their peaceful repose and blessed memory. At this pannikhida the names of the departed in all the commemoration books of our parish and the Wallsend parish were read.
Despite the restrictions on social activity and church life this year made necessary by the threat of the coronavirus COVID-19, our parish was able to have a number of traditional services for Orthodox Holy Week and Pascha. Matins with the singing of "Behold, the Bridegroom comes" ("Се, Жених грядет") and the exapostilarion “Thy Bridal chamber” ("Чертог твой") was served in the evening on Sunday 12 April, Monday 13 April, and Tuesday 14 April. Matins and Divine Liturgy for Great and Holy Thursday were served on the evening of Wednesday 15 April and the morning of Thursday 16 April. Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ was served in the afternoon on Friday 17 April and Matins with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ was served later that evening. On the morning of Saturday 18 April, Great and Holy Saturday, Vespers with Divine Liturgy was served. On Saturday evening Midnight Office and a small procession were followed by Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy. The Paschal Hours and Vespers were served on the morning of Sunday 19 April. At each of these services a small number of experienced readers, singers and servers were present to ensure the orderly conduct of the services. At Divine Liturgy on Thursday the commemoration books of the Wallsend parish were read, and at Divine Liturgy on Saturday our parish commemoration books were read.
On Saturday 11 April and Sunday 12 April we had closed-door services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, and five loaves was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Pussy willows and palm branches were also blessed on Saturday evening. At Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of all our parishioners were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the events commemorated on Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday; about the humanity and divinity of Christ; about the ancient monastic practice in Palestine of leaving the monasteries during Great Lent to fast and pray in the wilderness before coming together again on Palm Sunday; of the way in which a Great Lent in the wilderness had been imposed on many by present circumstances; and of the relevance in these circumstances of the appointed reading from the Apostol (Philippians 4:4-9) with its exhortation to not be anxious about anything, to present all requests to God, and to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure and lovely. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Panteleimon was served at which our parishioners and their families were again commemorated.
On Friday 10 April and Sunday 11 April we had closed-door services for Lazarus Saturday, the day on which the Orthodox Church commemorates the raising of Lazarus from the dead after four days in the grave (John 11:1-45). Matins was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. On Saturday at Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of all the parishioners of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Wallsend, were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Nicholas was served at which the Wallsend parishioners and their families were again commemorated.
On Monday 6 April and Tuesday 7 April we had closed-door services for the Great Feast of the Annunciation. All-night Vigil (Great Compline, Matins and the First Hour) with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Monday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday at Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of all our parishioners were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to the Mother of God was served at which our parishioners and their families were again commemorated.
On Saturday 4 April and Sunday 5 April we had closed-door services for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint Mary of Egypt (+c.421 AD). All-night Vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. On Sunday at Divine Liturgy the commemoration books of all the parishioners of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Wallsend, were read and the Prayer in time of Devastasting Epidemic was offered. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Nicholas was served at which the Wallsend parishioners and their families were again commemorated. On Sunday evening there was a small service of General Anointing, again behind closed doors.
The April 2020 issue of “Word of the Church” (“Церковное Слово”), the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, has recently become available in our parishes. As usual, it contains a number of interesting articles in both Russian and English. This issue includes the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion in Russian and English; “Домашнее Богослужение Воскресного Дня”; “How Saint Valentina of Minsk helped during the Great Patriotic War”; the text of episcopal statements, letters and decrees; materials relating to the coronavirus pandemic; and a directory of Diocesan parishes and clergy. Copies are $5.00. During the period in which our church is closed, we will post a copy to any of our parishioners who would like one.